National Signing Day has finally arrived and it couldn't have come any sooner for BYU fans looking forward to welcoming the 2014 class of recruits. The Cougars will have one of the smaller classes they've had in recent history due to an unbalanced number of scholarships that is a direct result of the LDS missionary age change that went into effect a little over a year ago. Head coach, Bronco Mendenhall, has estimated the Cougars will have one more smaller recruiting class next season before the program can deal with the influx of returning missionaries and balance the scholarships out again.
This year marks the first time BYU has utilized a Director of Player Personnel to coordinate recruiting efforts. The Cougars hired Geoff Martzen to that newly created position back in April. Martzen came to Provo with recruiting experience under Nick Saban at Alabama and Chris Petersen at Boise State. Martzen has helped BYU extend its recruiting reach to prospects the Cougars either wouldn't have offered or may not have been aware of in the past. DT Jaterrius Gulley, who is committed and expected to sign with BYU today is a great example of one such prospect.
The Cougars go into the day with two early signees already official members of the 2014 class. WR Nick Kurtz and DB Michael Shelton signed with BYU back in December and are already attending school. There have been some rumors floating around the social media world that BYU may see a few players announcing they will be transferring to Provo today as well, so don't be surprised if you see names like former UTEP WR Jordan Leslie or former Houston WR Andrew Rodriguez pop-up during the day.
BYU still has several key uncommitted targets they are hoping to convince to come to Provo and lock up by days end. The names on the top of that list are OG Damien Mama, DE Isaiah Nacua, WR Devon Blackmon, DE Uriah Leiataua, and S Courtland Sutton. The Cougars also hope to hold onto the highest-rated prospect they already have committed, LB Fred Warner. Washington and USC have both made a late push for Warner that has made plenty of Cougar fans nervous.
Damien Mama (6-4/370) OG | St. John Bosco H.S., CA - - 9:00 a.m. MST (ESPNU)
Fred Warner (6-3/205) LB | Mission Hills H.S., CA - - 11:00 a.m. MST
Isaiah Nacua (6-2/240) DE | Timpview H.S., UT - - 12:00 p.m. MST
Devon Blackmon (6-1/185) | Riverside City College, CA - - TBA
Uriah Leiataua (6-3/232) | Dominguez H.S., CA - - 12:55 p.m. MST
Courtland Sutton (6-3/190) | Brenham H.S., TX - - TBA
While I'm not aware that any of the recruits outside of Mama, will be making their decisions on any of the major networks, but Bronco Mendenhall will hold a press conference to announce his 2014 class at 1:00 p.m. MST on byutvsports.com. BYUtv will also broadcast an hour-long signing day special tonight at both 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. MST.
Also, make sure to check our National Signing Day story stream regularly for the latest updates on all BYU's signees.
Damien Mama - As much as Mama seemed to enjoy his official visit to Provo last weekend, I just don't think there was anything BYU could do to pry him away from USC. Mama has favored the Trojans for quite a while and that's where he will end up (I'd be very happy if he proved me wrong on this one). Pick: USC
Fred Warner - USC and Washington have made some very strong runs at Warner in the 11th-hour, but everything I've seen from Warner makes me think he'll hold to his commitment to Bronco Mendenhall. Pick: BYU
Isaiah Nacua - Nacua has been really quiet about the whole recruiting process since de-committing to BYU back in November, but yesterday his high school coach and mother both told local media that Nacua plans on signing with the Cougars. I'll keep my fingers crossed that he doesn't have an overnight change of heart. Pick: BYU
Devon Blackmon - Blackmon had a lot of great things to say about BYU on his Twitter account during his official visit a week and a half ago, but things have been pretty quiet from Blackmon since then. I could really see Blackmon end up at a number of different places, but I think the opportunity to have an immediate impact will draw him to BYU. Pick: BYU
Uriah Leiataua - Leiataua is committed to Stanford, but since taking his official visit this past weekend has been struggling to make a decision between the schools. It's really obvious Leiataua really likes both schools and that makes his decision really difficult to predict. Because this one seems like such a toss up, I'm going to stick with the school he is committed to. Pick: Stanford
Courtland Sutton - It's been a while since Sutton was on BYU campus, but he did have an in-home visit from several members of the coaching staff recently. I was very surprised by a recent report from Total Blue Sports that Sutton had dropped Colorado from consideration and was looking to decide between BYU and SMU. If that report is true I like the Cougars chances. Pick: BYU